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Why You Need an Agile ERP System: Part Two

1/22/2015

In part one of this post, we discussed the technologies driving development in today’s digital business landscape, the major forces driving dramatic change, and the challenges businesses face in a time of transformational innovation. To adapt to transformational change, enterprise resource planning (ERP) needs to be agile; otherwise, companies will look up from their systems and wonder what happened.  

Many people think of ERP systems as dinosaur relics of the information age. They deserve a little of that reputation—they are large and complex applications that are often tied to business practices of the past. But the fact is that ERP becomes more important than ever in the digital age. business-forecasting-graph-staff

In the beginning, ERP was about cost controls and efficiency. But today’s leading companies use ERP for revenue expansion. Growth in today’s marketplace requires adopting the new business practices emerging as result of technical progress. The velocity and complexity of these developments mean people need ERP more than ever, although ERP itself needs to evolve to avoid becoming an impediment to progress.

Here is the challenge in a nutshell:

  • The pace of change is fast and accelerating.
  • Digital disruption is well underway.
  • To succeed, companies must respond to new business models.

All this requires a shift in ERP. Here is what today’s users need from their ERP systems:

  • Deployment choice
  • Easy analytics and reporting
  • Channel integration
  • Low cost of ownership
  • Easy configuration
  • Rich user experiences
  • Ability to scale

ERP systems historically revolved around institutional thinking. ERP codifies business processes that are defined and measured based on top-down objectives and governance. Business process automation is tricky because something that was perfectly automated a year ago can quickly turn into an obstacle when needs change; so executives’ attitudes towards ERP can change overnight when the business is changing faster than ERP can be updated to optimize processes.

On the other hand, agile ERP shifts its focus toward individual contributions and a system that helps people react and resolve on-the-ground situations never foreseen by their management or software vendors. With agile ERP, people create their own ERP experiences, then share insight with other employees or other companies. Agile ERP frees individual users from the preconceptions long held by their IT departments.

This kind of ERP is all about outcomes, and at its heart, upholds five key principles:

  • Collaboration. In today’s extended value chains, collaboration is essential to drive innovation, uncover opportunity, and respond to change in often-volatile markets. To do this successfully, ERP must be accessible to everyone involved in a company’s value chain, and business processes must be linked directly to that chain. Knowledge retention, traceability, deep domain expertise—these objectives must be supported by enabling communication without latency, and providing easy access and leverage via means that users want to use.
  • Choice. Agile ERP gives organizations the ability to adapt to their unique circumstances, easily configure, stay current with technological advances, and scale up or out as demands dictate. All without taxing IT demands or frustrating delays.
  • Responsiveness. In a world where events on one side of the world can immediately impact business on the other, the ability to respond is paramount. Business analysis must be in context and business response must be agile; customer expectations allow for nothing less. Agile ERP is designed to deliver in this taxing milieu, providing rich global functionality that organizations can use, in an instant, for strategic response and competitive advantage.
  • Simplicity. As value chains become increasingly extended, nuanced, and complex, you can’t have your core systems adding to the complexity. By simplifying deployment, management, and usage—and by providing accurate, up-to-date information that enables a single version of the truth across multi-faceted supply and demand networks—agile ERP reduces complexity and makes it simpler to make the decisions for sustained success.
  • Mobility. Today’s workers aren’t chained to their desks or their computers; they want 24/7 access to the information they need, wherever they are, on whatever device they use. Agile ERP is designed to deliver this flexibility.

By adhering to these principles, ERP can provide the agility companies need to cope with transformational change. In doing so, it will support their growth and success in an increasingly competitive business landscape.

Posted by Epicor ERP Insights Team

 

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